The 2020 US Presidential Election – a short statistical preview…

Today sees the beginning of the formal process to select the Presidential nominees for the Democratic and Republican Parties, and here at Liberal Democrat Voice, I thought that I might start with a little context setting and a look back at what happened last time. So, strap yourselves in, and let’s look at some of the numbers from 2016.

We know that Hillary Clinton won the popular vote by nearly three million votes, and you might wonder how you can lose under those circumstances, but she did. However, whilst the result was a 304 votes to 227 win for Donald Trump in the Electoral College, if just 43,375 voters in Michigan (16 Electoral College votes), Pennsylvania (20) and Wisconsin (10) had voted for Hillary rather than Donald, she’d have won by fifteen. In each of those states, the winning margin was less than 1%, whilst in Florida, Trump won by just 1.2%. Add that in, and Hillary would have won with an almost identical margin to that which she lost by – 302 to 229. I’ve ignored the faithless electors, at least for now.

So, the aim for the Democratic nominee is obvious, win Florida, Michigan, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin, hold onto the rest of the 2016 wins, and you’re home and dry. And, given that Obama won them all in 2012, and Michigan, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin by at least a five percentage point margin, that shouldn’t be too much of a challenge, right? After all, 2012 wasn’t even Obama’s best year – in 2008, he won Florida, Indiana and Ohio, and lost Missouri by less than 4,000 votes (0.14%). There are also states where a swing of less than 5% is required – Arizona (11 Electoral College votes, 1.77% swing needed), North Carolina (15, 1.83%), Georgia (16, 2.57%), Ohio (18, 4.07%), Texas (36, 4.5%) and Iowa (6, 4.71%).

From a Republican perspective, the potential targets are New Hampshire (4 Electoral College votes, swing needed 0.19%), Minnesota (10, 0.76%), Nevada (6, 0.76%), Maine (at-large) (2, 1.48%), Colorado (9, 2.46%), Virginia (13, 2.66%) and New Mexico (5, 4.11%). You can probably write off the other states now, especially the biggest ones like New York, California, New Jersey and Illinois, all of which Clinton won last time by ten percentage points or better.

And that makes the arithmetic starkly clear. The larger states where Trump won in 2016 – Texas, Florida, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Michigan, Georgia and North Carolina – are all potentially in play, whereas the larger states won by Clinton really aren’t.

There is one other factor hanging over the Democratic race to be the nominee – money. Somewhat incredibly, from a British perspective, the remaining candidates have raised more than $800 million for their campaigns as at 31 December, and whilst half of that has come from the billionaire candidates Bloomberg and Steyer, even the candidates who have already withdrawn raised more than $170 million before they exited the contest. It will be already be a $1 billion campaign and there’s still more than five months to go – the US Virgin Islands caucuses take place on 6 June.

So, we start in snowy Iowa, which has already been reviewed on these pages by Alex Paul Shantz nearly three weeks ago. It’s a caucus state, so Democrats will be gathering in church halls, public libraries, schools and even individuals’ homes in each of Iowa’s 1,681 precincts. The average of the last three polls shows;

  • Bernie Sanders – 23.3%
  • Joe Biden – 20.6%
  • Pete Buttigieg – 15.7%
  • Elizabeth Warren – 14.4%
  • Amy Klobuchar – 10.0%

with the rest nowhere, polling below 4%.

We’ll see what happens when we wake up tomorrow morning…

* Mark Valladares is a former member of the Liberal Democrats Federal International Relations Committee, and volunteered at the 2000 Democratic National Convention in Los Angeles.

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2 Comments

  • Richard Underhill 10th Feb '20 - 11:01pm

    What Sennator Warren said at the 2016 democrat conference.

  • Richard Underhill 10th Feb '20 - 11:04pm

    the invasion of Germany by France to empower the enforcement of the Versailles treaty reparations… was an awful lesson for the Stalinists who wanted to extract reparations from East Germany after WW2.

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